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Hotel body calls for reforms to get the sector back on track

The industry body says it believes the intention of both the NSW and Commonwealth governments is to provide support to severely affected businesses, particularly those closed or hibernated for long periods due to lockdowns.

“We do not believe Commonwealth and State Treasury budgeted for the large number of accommodation hotels being ineligible for support. With more than 50 per cent of our CBD staff living in south-western and western Sydney the ability to maintain pre lockdown staffing levels without JobSaver will not be possible,” Mr Johnson said.

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In mid-July, the NSW and federal governments announced a new multibillion-dollar economic support stimulus package to businesses suffering a decline in revenue. Local businesses had to meet a list of criteria to be eligible, including proof of a loss of business during the current coronavirus outbreak, but they also have to retain their current staffing levels.

Accor, the largest hotel operator in Australia and part of the Paris-based operator, welcomed the critical financial support to help NSW tourism employees get through the latest Sydney and NSW lockdown.

Accor Pacific chief executive Simon McGrath said it is crucial financial assistance was provided for employees of the tourism sector caught up in the lockdown. But he warned some businesses were unlikely to survive the year.

“The industry is suffering from no international tourism, educational tourism and a loss of confidence due to border certainty. If the government continues to support tourism through this critical recovery period, it will benefit our economy for many decades to come, attracting overseas investment and creating jobs,” Mr McGrath said.

Hotel operators have also called on the NSW government to have the right to mandate vaccinations for their workers when the lockdowns end and visitors start coming back.

The NSW government has said the first step on the road map out of COVID-19 will be a range of family, industry, community and economic restrictions to be lifted for those who are 70 per cent vaccinated and further easing of restrictions on industry, community and the economy, when the 80 per cent full vaccination level is achieved.

In a recent survey of both TAA NSW general managers and their staff, more than 80 per cent of recipients agreed that a vaccinated accommodation industry workforce is vital for the safety and wellbeing of employees and guests.

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“TAA NSW requests that the NSW government implements a public health order commencing December 1 that allows accommodation hotels the discretion ‘to have the right to mandate vaccination’ for their employees to be able to work – an exemption would apply for those with a valid medical reason,” Mr Johnson said.

“We were also the first industry to have restrictions imposed on us and sadly will be the last to have them lifted. We are appreciative of the support given however request this is fair to all.”

At a time when private companies are mandating staff to be vaccinated to work, such as Qantas, the TAA says hotels are hindered by legal liabilities to introduce the same level of orders.

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